The Country's Great are Those Who are the Meek and Humble

The meek and the humble are the true generators of a good and prosperous country. It is because they get stepped upon and yet are strong enough to get right back up. It is because they don’t have the “bully-pulpit” and yet maintain their morals, ideals, and focus when all about them are losing theirs. This is the true “American Character”, found mostly in the middle of the country, often derogatorily referred to as “fly over country” by those on either coast. “American Character” is the Ross McGinnis story, a 19 year old Army soldier from Knox, Pennsylvania, with his whole life before him. Serving his country in Iraq, he threw himself on a grenade thrown into his vehicle to save four others in the vehicle (see John 15:13). He was awarded our country’s highest honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor. It was Rush Limbaugh, who the liberals love to hate, who said that Ross and his parents are what makes this country great; they are the backbone of America and they deserve our respect! He is right. Saying what he did about Ross, does that sound like someone we should hate? I don’t think so. President George W. Bush, another hated with an unreasonable passion, himself feeling the pain of the McGinnis family’s loss and the actions of a giving hero, had tears in his eyes over Ross’s story. Yet we have many congressmen & senators on both sides of the aisle who think that they are the ones who are great. No, it is the lowly “common man and woman” that make up the kingdom of God on earth.

It is the roughneck on an oil rig that works hard but is a peaceful and kind man. It is the woman iron worker bolting heavy beams together to form our buildings that also tenderly nurses her baby. A baker who rises at 3:00AM to make fine bread like the bread Jesus broke that last night. It is the creative passionate artisan that forms a beautiful hymn of praise, and the school’s caring janitor that wishes to see fairness in the way people are treated. These are such as the family of God, brothers and sisters in Christ to serve God, bowing down to the LORD Jesus Christ and growing in the Spirit.

Jesus brought down the high and mighty, and lifted up the lowly.

I believe the Ross McGinnis story reflects a unique Christian character, that is, it is a story of sacrifice for a cause and a caring for others beyond self. It is a story of pushing one’s self beyond normal settings all for a higher purpose. Though erroneously labeled baby-killers by unthinking hateful liberal groups, our military men and women often react in a Christ-like walk of love as they, though being in a fire fight, will struggle to save an innocent child or woman, or even one of their own brothers or sisters in the fight. Paul told us what to do:

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1+2 ESV)

The Country’s Great are Those Who are the Meek and Humble

The meek and the humble are the true generators of a good and prosperous country. It is because they get stepped upon and yet are strong enough to get right back up. It is because they don’t have the “bully-pulpit” and yet maintain their morals, ideals, and focus when all about them are losing theirs. This is the true “American Character”, found mostly in the middle of the country, often derogatorily referred to as “fly over country” by those on either coast. “American Character” is the Ross McGinnis story, a 19 year old Army soldier from Knox, Pennsylvania, with his whole life before him. Serving his country in Iraq, he threw himself on a grenade thrown into his vehicle to save four others in the vehicle (see John 15:13). He was awarded our country’s highest honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor. It was Rush Limbaugh, who the liberals love to hate, who said that Ross and his parents are what makes this country great; they are the backbone of America and they deserve our respect! He is right. Saying what he did about Ross, does that sound like someone we should hate? I don’t think so. President George W. Bush, another hated with an unreasonable passion, himself feeling the pain of the McGinnis family’s loss and the actions of a giving hero, had tears in his eyes over Ross’s story. Yet we have many congressmen & senators on both sides of the aisle who think that they are the ones who are great. No, it is the lowly “common man and woman” that make up the kingdom of God on earth.

It is the roughneck on an oil rig that works hard but is a peaceful and kind man. It is the woman iron worker bolting heavy beams together to form our buildings that also tenderly nurses her baby. A baker who rises at 3:00AM to make fine bread like the bread Jesus broke that last night. It is the creative passionate artisan that forms a beautiful hymn of praise, and the school’s caring janitor that wishes to see fairness in the way people are treated. These are such as the family of God, brothers and sisters in Christ to serve God, bowing down to the LORD Jesus Christ and growing in the Spirit.

Jesus brought down the high and mighty, and lifted up the lowly.

I believe the Ross McGinnis story reflects a unique Christian character, that is, it is a story of sacrifice for a cause and a caring for others beyond self. It is a story of pushing one’s self beyond normal settings all for a higher purpose. Though erroneously labeled baby-killers by unthinking hateful liberal groups, our military men and women often react in a Christ-like walk of love as they, though being in a fire fight, will struggle to save an innocent child or woman, or even one of their own brothers or sisters in the fight. Paul told us what to do:

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:1+2 ESV)

Producing Good Shade and Shelter…it is About What is Inside You! Character Matters!

Paul instructed that what was important was inside and not on the surface of a person. What is down deep inside a person is much more important than what you see on the outside. Most will decide about a person based on looks rather than waiting to see what comes from within. As a Harley Davidson motorcycle enthusiast, I often will travel dressed in black leather, boots and a facial mask if in the winter. Sights some associate with the “one percenters”, the outlaw bikers, but we 99 percenters are a much different breed. My wife and I were sitting on a brick wall at the Harley dealership in Hot Springs, Arkansas, viewing a sea of Harleys and their riders gathered for the Arkansas HOG Rally [HOG = Harley Owners Group]. I think it was the first time my wife found herself around hundreds of bikers; we watched the people. Soon 3 bikes backed up in front of us and their riders disembarked loosening their gear, it was obvious they had travel far to find this parking spot. A middle-aged lady soon revealed herself out from under all her riding gear and with the manner of some lost relative just started visiting with us. They had traveled north from Beaumont, Texas to join the Hot Springs biker rally; my wife was amazed how friendly everyone was. We walked through the sea of motorcycles, many draped by their rider’s expensive leather jackets. No one touched anything. Looking at these $400 to $800 dollar jackets just laying there, I wondered how long a leather jacket of this quality would last in a shopping mall parking lot in Oklahoma City. You won’t find any group anywhere that is more friendly, more honest, more hard working, more caring, more patriotic and more fun than HOG people. Yes, the tie is the Harley, their iron horse, but more importantly it is what is inside these modern day cowboys and cowgirls.

Using architecture as a metaphor:

Architects & Owners look to spend the money on what is seen in their buildings; it is their expression, their presentation. Obviously, it is much more fun to think about the “glitz”; often this is what is rewarded in the architectural design award circles. An architect is praised by what you see and not how well the architecture looks over time, or how well it keeps the water out, or how low the maintenance costs are, or how well it functions for the user, or how little waste of resources is created. The difference can be the small details around the windows, the doors, the roofing membranes, the various coatings, the waterproofing, and the sealants; this is what really counts. Oh, I believe in the importance of good timeless design, but it is what is behind the visible surfaces that really matters to fine architecture. A person is just the same; it is what is behind visible treatments that really matters. Furthermore, architecture will not have integrity and vitality unless the “form-giver”, the “life-giver” [the architect] also has integrity. With no vitality, the so-called architecture is only going to be “a building”…just sitting there with no life in it, and it won’t stand the test of time.

Ken Pate wrote an article for the Harley Owners Group’s magazine, “Enthusiast”, entitled “Worth the Ride”. He told of how his wife was so mad when he bought his Harley in 2003 and that she didn’t talk to him for weeks and that she would never ride on it. One day in 2004 she was told she had colon cancer and wanted to go for a ride…on his bike. Soon they were riding all the time, she even got her own trike; they ended up a HOG meeting where they met many wonderful people. Ken said of that meeting, that it was the best thing they did together in 46 years of marriage. Later his wife was diagnosed with lung cancer. The HOG Chapter rallied to help the couple in many ways over the years. When Ken’s wife passed away in 2010, the funeral planned by Ken and his wife included their Harley family leading the funeral procession…maybe 25 bikes they thought. On the day of the funeral, a police escort and 74 bikes led the way! What is a true family anyway, I ask? I would say these folks were producing very good “shelter & shade” benefits by having proper roots and good nourishment. It didn’t matter about politics, money, position, or anything else; it was about caring for one another as a family of humanity.

One Who Assembles Sense

The name “Ecclesiastes” comes from the Greek translation of the Hebrew word “Qoheleth,” meaning “one who assembles.” Isn’t that what we all do in life? We assemble. We assemble our collection of toys as we grow up. We assemble our collection of friends and acquaintances. We assemble skills in order to do something, be it good or bad skills. We assemble our “toys” after we are grown up. We assemble our families, and later in life we hope to assemble some well-deserved relaxation and fun in retirement. But is that all there is to life? What is, after all, the real meaning of life?

An often used phrase in Ecclesiastes is “nothing makes sense”; have you echoed this phrase in your own life? How sad would it be to come to the end of your life and be thinking nothing has made sense…is this all there is? Did my life account for anything? Did I make a difference? Was there a reason I was born? Did anybody notice me while I walked this planet? What is next, if anything, after my death?

Written over 2,500 years ago, Ecclesiastes is as modern today as ever. Who hasn’t said the following or something like it, at one time or another in their own lives?

“I have seen everything during this senseless life of mine. I have seen good citizens die for doing the right thing, and I have seen criminals live to a ripe old age.” (Ecc. 7:15 CEV)

In 1983, Harold S. Kushner published his bestseller book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Avon. Later, in 1997, Melvin Tinker followed with his book, Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? by Christian Focus. Obviously, this has been a question for all time.

I don’t know why it is such a mystery to most; it should come as no surprise. We live in a fallen world where evil reigns until Christ comes again. We learn very clearly in Matthew 7:25 that the winds of destruction and the flood waters come against all people, the righteous and the unrighteous alike. Our promise from God is only that we Christians will be able to withstand these destructive forces, not that we will escape such calamity in our earthly lives. Many a new Christian mistakenly thinks that once they accept Christ as their LORD and Savior, their lives will be trouble free from then on. One only needs to look at the Apostles to see that all had harsh lives and all but John died a martyr’s death.

We are not of this world

What is a Christian? Someone who knows Jesus Christ? No…the Bible tells us that the demons know Jesus Christ. Someone who knows Jesus is the Son of God? No…the demons know that too. Fact is, Jesus told us that many so-called Christians will call Him Lord and He will say, “I don’t know you”. So what then is the real Christian? Maybe the Christian is one who does good things. No, many non-Christians also do good things. So what then is the real Christian?

Michael Brown, past professor at a number of seminaries, wrote an article published on January 3, 2013, entitled: “What’s Right and Wrong with American Christianity”. He listed 8 “right things” and 12 “bad things”. The right things were about the things a Christian “does”: feed the poor, generousity, being helpful to others, being moral, pro-life, and pro-Israel. Jesus asked us to go and “do”, strive to be righteous and look after your neighbor; so I agree with Brown’s “right listing”, but these things don’t define a Christian. The bad things consist of having shallow faith, leadership scandals, moving away from orthodoxy, prosperity preaching, false teaching, and changing the church to fit the culture. Here we have a serious and accurate list. If we can reverse this “bad list” we will find out what a real Christian is.

A real Christian has a very strong faith in Jesus Christ and is willing to put Jesus above all things including self. The Bible teaches that leadership will be judged harsher than others; leadership should be stronger and humbly better, no excuses. The Christian’s faith must remain orthodox; the Bible is the very word of God, believe it with all your mind, heart and soul. A Christian does not change Jesus to suit his personal whims or to make the culture like a false message. A Christian loves Jesus no matter what the world thinks, no matter if it costs him his life.

On Chrismas Eve when most in the USA were warm and snuggly in their beds thinking of sugar plums in the morning, Islamic terrorists were killing 12 Christians celebrating Christ’s birth in Nigeria and burning down their church. The USA is quickly moving to demonize Christianity; we have already had church burnings. Please Lord, we pray for those persecuted Christians standing up for Jesus. We ask Lord to help those wayward Christians in the USA to reverse their course to become Bible-centered and become as strong for Christ Jesus as our brother and sisters in Nigeria, for many, Lord, have lost their way.